This is a classic and versatile recipe, I use it regularly and always make a double batch and freeze it in portions, as it makes a quick base sauce for so many other dinners.
Once you’ve made it you’ll never want to use a jar again.
Serves 8 -12 Gluten Free
5 garlic cloves
1 large brown onion, finely chopped
large bunch fresh basil
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
2 tbsp tomato purée
4 x 400g/14oz cans chopped plum tomatoes
1 tbsp caster sugar
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a wide saucepan or large frying pan,
Fry the onion for 5 minutes, or until translucent and soft but not coloured.
Add the garlic and finely chopped basil stalks and sizzle for one minute, again not allowing them to colour.
Stir in the tomato purée.
Tip in the chopped tomatoes, and sugar.
Season with a generous amount of salt and pepper.
Simmer slowly for 30 minutes until the sauce is rich and thick.
Tear and stir in the basil leaves just before the end.
This can be frozen but should be used within a month.
For a creamy mascarpone and tomato sauce, add 1 tbsp of mascarpone cheese per person to the sauce and a little bit of the pasta water to thin it a little, Top with some Basil leaves and a generous grating of parmesan. Or fry off some meatballs and add to spaghetti for a quick and easy meal.
I first saw this recipe in a television advert for Sainsburys many years ago, it had a voice over by John Nettles back when he was in ‘Bergerac’. I suspect Jamie Oliver was still in school at the time!
Anyway, I’ve kept it as true to the original as possible, with only the addition of meatballs made from sausages. Leave them out for a vegetarian version and use Gluten Free Penne Pasta for a Gluten Free version (just cook the pasta fully before adding to the sauce and baking.
This is a classic Italian soup, full of many different textures and vegetables. But it’s also a little bit more than a soup – it’s almost a main course that you can eat with crusty bread for lunch. The idea behind most soups is to cook them as quickly as possible to keep all the freshness in. This dish is a prime example of needing to cook all the ingredients gently first in the oil and then adding the stock while it’s boiling. This way you’re not stewing it for hours and losing all the goodness out of the vegetables. The thickener of this soup, although it’s got tomato purée and all the vegetables in there, is the starch from the pasta, so don’t panic if the soup looks a bit thin at first.
Serves 4 and it’s Gluten Free too!
1 large red onion, peeled and chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tsp fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
250g pancetta or smoked streaky bacon, cut into lardons
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
1 small swede, peeled and diced
2 sticks of celery, trimmed and chopped
1 medium leek, trimmed and chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp tomato purée
2 ltr chicken or vegetable stock
100g spaghetti (use you favourite Gluten Free spaghetti, for a gluten free version of this recipe. You may need to adjust the cooking time slightly dependant on the time your particular brand takes to cook)
½ a Savoy cabbage, shredded
400g Tin of White Beans in Water (ie Cannellinni or Flagolet)
15 cherry tomatoes, halved
Heat a little olive oil in a large pan and lightly sauté the onion, garlic and rosemary until softened.
Add the pancetta or bacon and cook without colouring for 3-4 minutes until the fat begins to come out.
Add the carrot, swede, celery and leek and cook for 2-3 minutes until they begin to soften. Season the vegetables while they’re cooking in the pan.
Add the tomato purée, stir, and continue cooking for 1 minute.
Add the hot stock. Turn down to a simmer and continue to cook for a further 15 minutes.
Put the spaghetti into a clean tea-towel and roll it up so you’ve got a sausage shape. Hold both ends tightly, then tap it over the edge of a table or work top so the spaghetti breaks into small even pieces.
Add to the soup and simmer until the spaghetti is tender – it should take about 10 minutes. Add the cabbage, Beans and tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes more.
Check the seasoning, then serve the soup in bowls and eat…
To get that authentic Italian feel, top with a teaspoonful of pesto. Eat with crusty bread (like my Cheese Soda Bread), it’s perfect comfort food for a blustery day.